PONTUS ENGBLOM AND STRØMSGODSET... A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN?

Pontus Engblom has been unveiled as a Strømsgodset player after weeks of speculation around the forwards’ next choice of club. He is likely to partner up with Marcus Pedersen as the two look to forge a prolific partnership up front.

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>The former Sandnes Ulf striker had been linked to clubs such as IFK Goteborg in the Swedish Allsvenskan and former side Haugesund in the Eliteserien but instead chose to join up with Tor Ole Skullerud at Strømsgodset. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>The move has been welcomed by Strømsgodset supporters with many excited to see whether the Swedish forward can bring over the brilliant performances that cast him into the limelight at former club Sandnes Ulf. Engblom had scored 45 goals in 60 games during his two year stay with the side. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>There are, however, some reservations about the transfer from certain corners. People could point to the fact that Engblom did not succeed in his previous stint in the Eliteserien with Haugesund, nor did he perform well enough to earn a new contract at former club AIK in 2012. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>The weight of expectation on the former Swedish youth international’s shoulders will be heavy at first, but does Engblom have what it takes to succeed for Strømsgodset in the Eliteserien? >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>When Pontus Engblom first joined Haugsund in 2012, he was just 21 years old making his first strides outside of his native Sweden. After a good start in his first few games as a Haugesund player, injury issues and a drop in form saw him loaned back to previous club GIF Sundsvall in Sweden for the remainder of the 2013 season. It was a big blow to Engblom who was desperate to succeed in a top Scandinavian league. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>This failure to settle seemed to impact the next couple of years of Engblom’s career at Haugesund. He would make just 19 more league appearances for the side before leaving to join Sandnes Ulf. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>Sandnes manager Bengt Saeternes, a successful former player himself, took a gamble on Engblom and signed the Swede to be his first choice striker in 2015. Engblom often speaks about the impact Saeternes had on his career and cites the fact that the Sandnes manager offered him a platform to succeed, when others were unsure. Engblom duly paid back Saeternes’ faith with 17 league goals in 2015 and ended the season as Sandnes’ top goalscorer.>

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>However, 2016 would be the season in which Engblom really came of age. The striker went from strength to strength and finished as the top scorer in the league with 26 goals in 30 league games. He was also named as the OBOS Ligaen Player of the Year, beating brilliant performances from Tonny Brochmann of FK Jerv and Kamer Qaka of Kristiansund to the title. >

Engblom has many great attributes as a striker, but his surprising bursts of pace and brilliant off the ball movement allowed him to always be one step ahead of the opposition defenders. Not many OBOS Ligaen sides managed to keep Engblom at bay last season and whilst the Eliteserien defences will be undoubtedly stronger, Engblom’s runs will still be devilishly hard to track.

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>Some doubt may exist about Engblom’s ability to play up front with Marcus Pedersen for Strømsgodset next season, but if the striker’s relationship with fellow Sandnes Ulf forward Kent Eriksen is anything to go by then there will be no issue at all. Eriksen and Engblom bounced off each other well last season and contributed to a total of 51 goals and assists between them. >

Whilst Engblom would play as the traditional striker in Bengt Saeternes’ system, Eriksen would drift in behind picking up little pockets of space and making searing runs from deep and out wide. The relationship benefited both players and I am sure Eriksen and Engblom would each admit to having their best season as a professional footballer.

Since re-joining Strømsgodset in 2015, Marcus Pedersen has played as the lone striker in a 4-3-3 formation. Injury issues affected the Norwegian international last season but it was clear that he hadn’t lost the knack for scoring that saw him bag 11 goals in 10 appearances after joining from Brann.

Having Engblom play alongside him in a 4-4-2 formation may come as a bit of a shock to Pedersen as he will have grown accustomed to playing up front on his own for Strømsgodset recently. If both Pedersen and Engblom can adapt to suit each others’ games then this partnership could well blossom and there is the potential for a very prolific striking duo. On their respective days, Engblom and Pedersen are easily 15+ goal a season strikers in the Eliteserien. Whether this will become a reality, though, is very hard to determine at this stage.

With Abdul Basit Agouda and Tommy Hoiland waiting in the wings for any kind of slip up from Strømsgodset’s new signing, Engblom will know that he will have to hit the ground running if he wants to succeed.

One would hope that Engblom can replicate his OBOS Ligaen successes in the 2017 Eliteserien season, but a doubt does still exist due to his past struggles in Norway’s top tier. Engblom has however has grown as a player since his stint at Haugesund and is now more ready than ever to make an impact in a Scandinavian top division.

It was a pleasure to watch Engblom at Sandnes last season and if he can produce the goods for Strømsgodset next year then a move outside of Scandinavia to a good European side would not be out of the question.